You can thank John Hickey for this post. In one column in Tuesday’s P-I, and one post on the P-I blog, he managed to move the Mariners from a figure in the shadows to the most notable team in Orlando. Not bad for 1,000 words. Since I know you guys are going to hammer the threads with these questions, let’s do a short Q&A about what I’m hearing about the rumors going around right now.
1. Are the Mariners really going after Manny Ramirez?
Yes and no. The Mariners and Red Sox have had multiple conversations about Ramirez, but they did not come to Orlando with the intention of walking away with Ramirez as their DH. The M’s established contact with the Red Sox to set themselves up as a backup plan in case things with the Dodgers didn’t work out and they found themselves looking for suitors for Manny. During talks last night and this morning, the Red Sox asked the Dodgers for every single player on their roster and $250 billion in gold bars, or something close to it, and the Dodgers understandably walked away.
At some point after that, the Red Sox called the M’s to establish a legitimate alternative option in case the deal with LA was irreconcilable. The Mariners know that a payroll with Manny can’t also include Richie Sexson, so the Giants were hauled in as a conduit. Brian Sabean has been after Sexson for months, and since he’s also been pursuing Ramirez but lacked the necessary trade chips to get something done, a three-way deal evolved as the logical answer.
So, they talked and laid the foundations for the possibility of a deal. The idea has been explored. But, and this is a big deal, this three-way trade isn’t the #1 option on any of these teams wish lists. The Red Sox want to deal with LA and rob them of some very good young talent. The Giants want Ramirez for themselves. The Mariners just want Jason Schmidt to stop trying to get a deal that locks him up through age 86 and sign on the dotted line.
This is a backup plan for all three teams, which makes it extremely unlikely that it’s going to happen. A friend asked me tonight what I thought the odds are of this deal going down and I told him 5%, or 10% if I really optimistic that minute. Either way, it’s a long shot.
2. You’ve said that the names in Hickey’s report aren’t completely accurate. Who is involved?
Sexson is involved. Everyone else on the roster not named Felix, Betancourt, or Ichiro is up for discussion. But there’s no deal on the table – there’s not an offer that sends Jones and Putz to Boston, Ramirez and Lowry to Seattle, and Sexson to San Francisco. All those names have been mentioned in discussions, but from what I understand, that’s not the trade that would happen. That deal wouldn’t work for Boston or San Francisco, and at that price, Los Angeles would get back in the game. And once LA is back in the game, the M’s are back to being Plan B.
3. Are the M’s really going after Barry Zito?
The M’s have called every pitcher with a pulse during the past few weeks. The team source that Hickey talked to was right – if the years were the same, of course you’d be interested in the younger guy. But it was a completely hypothetical statement, because the years aren’t anywhere close to the same. Jason Schmidt is going to get 4 years and is trying to get 5. Barry Zito wants 6 and might get 7, and Zito’s going to get more money per year to boot. I’m sure the M’s have talked about Barry Zito, and I’m sure there’s no chance that they actually sign him. With the Rangers involved in the bidding, it’s in the Mariners best interest to create a public perception of significant interest from other parties, but I don’t know of any offseason plan the Mariners have created that includes Barry Zito taking the hill on opening day of 2007.
4. Tim Hudson? Adam LaRoche? Where are these names coming from?
Depending on who you talk to, the Braves and Mariners may or may not have talked about a deal this afternoon that would have swapped pitchers and first baseman and cash, and they may or may not have talked about using Atlanta in lieu of San Francisco as the third team in a Manny deal. There are a lot of deals to be made with the Braves that make a lot of sense for the Mariners – there are significantly less that makes sense for John Schuerholz and crew.
5. What do you think of all these moves?
There are so many permutations of each rumor that it’s impossible to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on potential deals. But I will say this – the M’s are talking about making the right kind of deal, and that makes me happier than anything. They’ve clearly decided that if they’re going to pay superstar prices for talent, they’re actually going to try to get a superstar for the money, and that’s the best conclusion they could have come to.
I don’t think the Mariners are going to end up with Manny Ramirez, Tim Hudson, or Adam LaRoche, but we should all love the fact that they’re trying.